The big news this week is of course the new Bruce Springsteen album.
Working On A Dream arrives in stores today backed by the sort of marketing and publicity campaign worthy of Obama's inauguration or the Super Bowl (not coincidentally, Bruce was or will be highly visible at both events), and the sort of high expectations you'd expect to match. If this one turns out to be anything less than the first blockbuster of the new year, I'd expect some heads to be rolling.
The album itself is a mixed bag, and the reviews coming in reflect a variety of opinions that are every bit as mixed.
But you certainly can't fault Springsteen's ambition here. Working On A Dream could just be the most stylistically varied collection of new songs of Springsteen's entire career. There's everything here from the epic tale of "Outlaw Pete," to the jangly sounding sixties pop of "Surprise, Surprise," to the Beach Boys styled sweep of "This Life." With reports of E Street Band tour dates already showing up all over the internet, expect most if not all of those shows to go on sale right after the SuperBowl on Monday, February 2.
Franz Ferdinand's third album Tonight moves the band further away from poppy-punk sounds, and towards more of a dance flavor. Here the Glasgow-based rockers branch out to include elements of everything from electronica to reggae, while maintaining their unique pop sensibilities.
This week we welcome three of our regular NAR contributors, all checking in with their picks. El Bicho will be talking about the new bluegrass album from Steve Martin, and Pico will likewise run down the jazz sounds of the new Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette collaboration. But first, here is Donald Gibson to tell us all about a cool new live E.P. from Paul McCartney. Mark Saleski continues his hiatus this week.
The first time I saw Paul McCartney in concert was in 1993 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. I was 16 and, despite my youth, I considered myself as much of a Beatles fan as anyone else in that packed, cavernous stadium. Seldom am I starstruck, but when McCartney took the stage, Hofner in hand, a flood of iconography and lore – British Invasion… Abbey Road… Ed Sullivan… Shea Stadium... Sgt. Pepper… Lennon… Liverpool… A Hard Day’s Night – crystallized in my mind in that one moment, represented by that one man. “There he is!” I yelled to no one in particular, utterly gobsmacked.